Module 8: The Forest of Hands and Teeth


Book Summary:

Mary knows nothing of life beyond the fence that surrounds her village except for the stories her mother told her as a child. But no one has ever seen the ocean or knows of any world but the one Mary lives. The world in which she feels trapped. But Mary believes in the ocean as fiercely as believes that there has to be a life beyond the Forest of Hands and Teeth and the Unconsecrated that surrounds them constantly.  And it is with more unknown than known that Mary has to decide if she should risk it all to find her way through the fence and into the land of the living dead to what may exist beyond.

APA Reference of Book:

Ryan, Carrie. (2009). The forest of hands and teeth. New York, NY: Delacorte Books for Young Readers


This book was not an easy read. I don’t mean that it was a bad book or that I had difficulty getting into it—trust me, it’s gripping from the get go—but post apocalyptic stories get under my skin and I have trouble removing myself from the horror. And believe me, my library had this book classified as a young adult horror story for a reason. There is a lot of death and violence in the story, but not a lot of gore. For me it was reminiscent of The Walking Dead and World War Z, with the exception being that the protagonist is a strong female. I do want to warn those readers that have to have a definite ending to a book, this may not be the one for you. I don’t mind a good ol’ decided for yourself kind of ending so I was not bothered, but I know that some people hate that so this is fair warning. All in all, I would recommend this book for someone wanting a scary zombie tale to read for Halloween.

Professional Review(s):

“…reminiscent of the paragon of the genre, George Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead…Ryan’s vision is bleak but not overly gory; her entry in the zombie canon stands out for how well she integrates romance with flesh-eating.”

“Mary’s observant, careful narration pulls readers into a bleak but gripping story of survival and the endless capacity of humanity to persevere…Fresh and riveting.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“[T]he suspense that Ryan has created from the very first page on entices and tempts readers so that putting the book down is not an option.”
School Library Journal, Starred Review

(n.d.) Carrie Ryan: Young Adult Author. [Reviews of the book The forest of hands and teeth, by C. Ryan]. Retrieved from:

Library Uses:

This would be a good addition to any reading group at Halloween time. It would also fit nicely in with books about distopian societies if you’re looking for a book that isn’t a classic.


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